Ozark History, Culture & Craftsmanship
by Joshua Heston
The Arkansas Ozarks are different from the Missouri Ozarks and I’m racking that difference up to “social and directional influences.”
That’s a fancy way of saying something really simple: The Arkansas Ozarks are in the Deep South. Up here in Missouri, there’s some ambiguity about where our mountains even lie. The Midwest? The South? The gateway to the West? For the Missouri Ozarks, nobody seems to be all that sure.
But down in Arkansas?
The answer is easy to come by. The Boston Mountains, Springfield Plateau, and the Ouachita Mountains are the Deep South’s westernmost mountain ranges, a rugged land of beauty and hardship, a last remnant of Native American culture, a place of deep hollers and longstanding hillbilly families, where the Santa Fe Trail from Fort Smith points the way of the setting sun.
It’s a Deep South culture with Antebellum, Cajun, Spanish and Native American influences… and a deep sense of identity. Gracious old cities like Fayetteville and Little Rock serve as counterpoints to the folk music valley of Mountain View (land of Jimmy Driftwood and the Ozark Folk Center) and the uniquely Southern Gothic city of Eureka Springs.
It’s a land of a proud people, extraordinary mountains and unique Ozarks culture. It’s also home to some of the best food you’re going to find anywhere; a menu heavy with okra gumbo, crawdads, rice, tomatoes with zucchini, fried chicken… and some of the best fruit pies around.
I’m getting hungry.